Beyond Chicken Fingers and Mac and Cheesetoddler-times
If there’s one complaint I could register with the owners of my favorite restaurant, it’s the need for kid portions. Not a kids menu, mind you. I don’t need chicken nuggets and mac and cheese at a Greek restaurant.
But half the Phyllo dough filled with feta, spinach and onions would be nice. A half a gyro, cucumber sauce on the side for dipping rather than dripping.
Kid friendly doesn’t have to mean kid food.
Our four-year-old is content eating bits of my spinach pie, pieces of my husband’s sausage dish. But most places don’t give her that option. She’s seated with a coloring book/menu, pictures of hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches so prominent they might as well have placed a flashing neon arrow just above. The power of suggestion preys heavily on her better judgment.
And as it’s a one-off, I generally don’t care. A few hot dogs and nuggets are not the makings of a lifelong problem, provided they’re supplemented at home by spinach and squash. We’re like most of America – we don’t eat out much.
But it’s not about whether the food is bad for her that bothers me quite so much. It’s the idea that dumbing down the menu for kids is necessary in a world where parents are being pushed to raise healthy, adventurous eaters in the battle with childhood obesity. Don’t want parents serving hot dogs every night? Why not stick the nitrate-laden stick of meat back at the ball park where it belongs?
I literally salivated at this article in Time Out New York Kids, a run down of Manhattan restaurants that have taken family friendly seriously. The children’s menu means adult meals in smaller portion, perhaps with less spice. You’ll note mac and cheese makes its appearance, fries too. But the menus are bursting with flavor and creativity. Who wants a popsicle when you can spoon hazelnut pudding into your darling’s lips?
Would your kids say “I’ll have what she’s having” if they could?